Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kravet's Social Media Event & Facility Tour

We were delighted to be invited by Kravet to speak at their presentation and panel discussion on social media in the interior design field at their Bethpage showroom last week, especially since we are big proponents of social media.

Beth Kimless Greene, Kravet's Vice President of Marketing & Communications, began the event with a presentation aimed at bringing the approximately 80 guests up to speed on the basics of what social media is, and then covered the four most commonly-used social media tools: Blogging, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. After her presentation, she sat down with panelists Austin Handler (Mabley Handler Interior Design), Kelly Dall (Kelly Dall Interiors), and Camila Pavone (Effortless Style Interiors and author of the High-Heeled Foot in the Door blog), and asked a series of questions that helped introduce each of the designers on the panel to the audience, and allowed them to speak about their respective area of expertise in the world of social media.

(L-R) Beth Kimless Greene, Austin Handler, Kelly Dall, Camila Pavone

I spoke about how we are utilizing our Hamptons design blog, Facebook and Twitter to connect with our friends, clients, and fans, and to help build our brand as Hamptons experts, a go-to source for all things Hamptons. Kelly explained how she uses Google Analytics to track her blog traffic and increase her readership, and Camila talked about how her design blog has become her full-time job, which then led her to offer e-decorating services to her readers and clients.

After the initial questions to the designers, Beth opened up the discussion to take questions from the audience, and Jennifer Powell, Kravet's Social Media Coordinator joined the panelists in fielding some of the questions. While a good portion of the designers in attendance were familiar with some of the basic components of social media, there definitely seemed to be some doubt in the minds of several of those designers on how social media could help grow their business...And a few designers were down-right suspicious of the whole concept of social media in general, especially with regards to privacy issues. But after the question-and-answer session, the majority of the audience seemed to understand that using social media can be a great new way to interact with people that admire their work, increase their following, and reach out to a greater circle of potential clients.

(L-R) Jennifer Powell, Jennifer Mabley, Austin Handler, Beth Kimless Greene

When the social media event ended, Brad Dull, our Kravet salesperson gave us a full tour of Kravet's Bethpage showroom, offices, and warehouse. We were amazed at how big the facility was, as well as the variety of operations that they have going on there. It was a great opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes peek at the World of Kravet.

We toured the warehouse floor and could not believe the volume of fabrics that Kravet has on hand to supply designers in the Tri-State area. And their Bethpage warehouse is only a fraction of the size of their South Carolina facility!

What does the photo below remind you of? If you said the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you are correct! After seeing this, we were surprised that more fabric doesn't get lost or misplaced! This is just one row of fabrics, in Kravet's smaller warehouse...Can you imagine what it would look like if the had all of their fabric under one roof? Just thinking about how to organize all of that gave us anxiety!

We also finally got to meet some of the people we normally work with over the phone and via E-mail in person. Here is Jennifer with Courtney Candiano, our dedicated customer service representative. She had barely finished shaking our hands when she jumped onto her computer and gave us the latest completion and shipping dates of our various open orders. Courtney definitely knows her stuff.

A great resource that Kravet has at their Bethpage facility is the Designers' Sample Sale Room below...But beware: Designers only, no clients allowed! There have floor models of furniture pieces from Kravet's New York City showroom that are currently on sale for less than half the trade price...Perfect for clients that are on a budget (or for designers looking to pick up some great deals for themselves!).

Along our tour we came across some interesting items, such as the piece of equipment below. Any idea what it is? It's a Wyzenbeek machine, naturally. And what the heck does a Wyzenbeek machine do? Well, we're glad you asked...It measures the strength of a fabric by executing repeated back-and-forth rubs across the face of the fabric until it tears, known as a double rub. A double rub is a standard unit of measurement that describes wear and tear on a fabric, and is then quantified as a fabric's Wyzenbeek rating. That Wyzenbeek rating is a guarantee that a given fabric will hold up, at minimum, to the number of double rubs in it's Wyzenbeek rating prior to tearing, ripping, or breaking down. It essentially lets a designer and/or a client know how long they can expect a fabric to last. Under normal circumstances, a year's worth of getting up and down from an upholstered sofa, loveseat, or chair translates into an estimated 3,000 double rubs. A light duty fabric can take 3,000-9,000 double rubs, a medium duty fabric can stand up to 9,000-15,000 double rubs, and a heavy duty fabric should be able to withstand at minimum 15,000 double rubs (although it will most likely run into the range of 30,000-40,000 double rubs.).

And we're walking...Next, we got to visit briefly with Ann Feldstein, Kravet's Senior Director of Marketing & Communications. Here is Ann in her office, in front of her wall of all of the brilliant Kravet advertisements from the past few years that she has designed/overseen. As a former advertising agency man, hanging out in Ann's office made me very happy!

One of our last stops on the tour was the Fabric-booking Room, which is where the Kravet team spends hour after hour researching what fabrics are the best sellers, and what fabrics have not been so popular...And based on their research, they are constantly working on creating new books of fabric collections. The fabrics on the wall in the photo below are ranked in their order of popularity, and the fabrics on the tables are in the process of being grouped together for inclusion into future fabric books.

And finally, at the end of the tour we bumped into Cary Kravet, the owner of Kravet, Inc.. It's obviously no secret that we think Kravet has beautiful fabrics and great furniture, but one of the things that we admire most about Kravet is the way Cary runs his business.

(L-R) Brad Dull, Cary Kravet, Austin Handler

For the owner of such a large company, Cary is very approachable, and Kravet is very much a family-run company. Several of Cary's family members work right there in the Bethpage facility, and there are other employees who also have family members working there as well. It's a great way to do business, and we are proud to include them as one of our most trusted and well-respected vendors.